Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kissing the Leper

Growing up with a disabled sister, I got used to people staring.  Caroline screamed in quiet places and would sit down on the floor in the middle of busy walkways.  Occasionally strangers reached out in service to us.  Because it was so unusual and touching for someone to help us, I remember some incidences in great detail.
Once I was alone with Caroline when she sat down in the middle of the mall.  This was back in the eighties when malls were very crowded, and we seemed to be right in everyone's way.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get her to move.  After what seemed like a very long time of having people trip over us, a woman stopped and asked if she could help.  Together, we dragged Caroline to the nearest bench.  I'm sure this woman has long forgotten her service, but I don't think I ever will.

Yesterday, I read a story that Jay Fox told at the BYU English Department Awards banquet last April. He said:

Jack Sing had leprosy and was treated with sulfone drugs, but not before the disease had done a lot of damage.  He was the branch president in Kalaupapa for 31 years.  In 1978 he was given a distinguished service award at BYU--Hawaii.  When he came to campus in his tennis shoes and baseball cap to receive the award, President Spencer W. Kimball attended the ceremony.  By this time Jack's face and hands were severely disfigured from the disease and you could see that many of those attending the meeting were standoffish and even reluctant to shake hands with him.  I saw President Kimball come up to him, put his arms around him and say, 'Jack, you are my brother!'  He then kissed Jack Sing.  This was one of the most compassionate acts I have ever witnessed and a great example to all of us.

In these two examples, it didn't take much extra time to perform an act of service.  Reading this story yesterday reminded me that service doesn't have to be a big project.  Have you ever had someone serve you in a simple way?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Literacy for Boys

My kids like to make fun of me a lot.  There's the time I made salmon tacos, for example.  And now that I have a teenage driver to scrutinize me, everyone thinks my driving is a bit subpar.  That's why it's so surprising to notice how much they actually do follow my example.  In the past few months, three of my boys have been writing their own books.  And, thanks to me sitting around reading books instead of doing something more productive, all my boys love to read.  (This whole example thing also works with my husband, by the way, who started an exercise program after I started getting fitter.)

I always thought the ideal way to get kids to do something was to sit them down, give them a lecture, and set a goal--or just simply nag.  I thought if I wanted to help my kids with spelling, I should drill them on spelling lists.  It turns out that the process of writing books has helped them with their spelling as much as the old drills.

Finding books for my boys is completely different than it was for my daughter.  My boys tend to love a great series.  If they find one book they really love, they will read everything the author has written.  And they love books about fighting.   I asked them to tell me what their favorite books were this year, and here are their answers:

books about animals
books that are based on a song

Beginning reader:
Dodsworth in New York (series)
Magic Treehouse series
Frog and Toad series

Fourth Grader:
Bullies in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley
Harry Potter series
Gladiator series (I'm not sure if I've approved this one yet.)
Diary of a Wimpy kid series

Sixth Grade and Up:
Christopher Paolini books
Fablehaven series
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Cirque du Freak series

Please let me know if you have any favorite boy books.  I'm starting my Christmas list.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quotes for a Bad Day

My online personal trainer, Jonathan Roche, sent out a list of quotes last week that I have on my refrigerator.  Yeah, the quotes are supposed to be motivating me to lose my last three pounds, but they're also helping me feel more positive about my writing and other things. So here they are for you to enjoy. I'd also love for you to comment and share your favorite quote.

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." - Thomas Edison

"Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you." --John Wooden

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." --Martin Luther King Jr.

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself." - Mikhail Baryshnikov

"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison

"It's not who we are that holds us back, it's who we think we're not." --Michael Nolan

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain." -- Unknown
"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." - Jim Rohn

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" - Robert H. Schuller

What's your favorite quote?

[Note:  My husband (the editor) says I should make sure to check all my citations.  As far as I know, all these quotes are correct, but I could only find them on the internet.  The internet is a reputable source, right?]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Undercover at the Book Signing

To calm my fears about marketing my book, I thought I'd do a little research.  I started with something easy:  book signings.  Last weekend, there were plenty of book signings to attend in my city, so I picked out a book that looked interesting and headed out to the signing.  My plan was to schmooze with the author a little while I got the book signed, but things didn't go exactly as I planned.

My first observation about the signing I attended was that the book signing tables were really tiny.  I mean, their size took me back to my high school days of having to remember a #2 pencil for the scantron test.  I have seen authors sitting at much bigger tables, but those were at bigger stores.  So, note to self:  whatever displays or handouts you bring to a book signing have to be adaptable to different sizes of tables.

I noticed one author sitting at her table all by herself.  No one was talking to her, and she looked kind of pitiful just sitting there trying to smile at people as they passed.  

I wanted to get a book signed by the other author, though, so I proceeded to the second table.  This author was standing up behind her table, talking to someone.  She didn't notice when I picked up one of her books.  I stood there for about a minute without any eye contact from this author.  I thought, "Oh well.  She's busy.  I'll come back later."

When I came back later, she was still talking and still didn't notice me, even though I stood there for a while.  Maybe in her mind, she was thinking, "Nobody really came here to buy my book.  I might as well make myself comfortable chatting it up."  Or maybe she was thinking something entirely different.  I know I'm being critical of this author, but it's mostly because I can see myself doing the exact same thing.

So, here's the second thing I learned:  It's better to sit behind the table and look pitiful than it is to make other people feel pitiful by ignoring them.

That's about all I learned from the book signing I attended.  I did, however, find that there's a lot of good tips about book signings on author blogs. Here's one from the Writer's Vineyard. Here's another by Connie Sokol.